Providing high-level, intuitive explanations of the performance of IR systems is generally difficult due to their complexity, and the various low-level implementation details involved. We present I-REX, a tool built on top of Lucene, that is intended to provide a systematic view into the inner workings of retrieval models and methods (specifically query expansion). This should help researchers study, compare, understand and explain the performance of these models and methods. I-REX can be run either as a Web service accessible through a browser, or as a terminal-based tool with a shell-like interactive interface. In this article, we describe a session that illustrates how I-REX can be used to explain the observed difference in the performance of two variants of the Language Model.